Chris Bosh is not in James’ class, but he was given the star treatment in Toronto because he was the face of the franchise.
Pieces were acquired to surround Bosh, but they didn’t mesh and the days to July 1 and the inevitable parting is ticking.
There are more perils than there are assurances when so much is given to a star player, even if it is a LeBron James.
When a championship isn’t delivered or when a long playoff run isn’t provided, the consequences can be devastating.
“If you trade a great player, you’d better get a whole lot in return because there are so few of those guys,” Phoenix Suns GM Steve Kerr said. “It’s a lot easier to add to the base that you’ve already got and reshuffle the exterior people than break up the whole thing and trade a dominant player.”
The task of bringing some luck to the Raptors belongs to assistant general manager Marc Eversley, who will represent the team backstage where the draw is actually held. Rookie guard DeMar DeRozan will be seated on stage with the other team representatives but won’t know the results until they’re announced shortly after 8 p.m. as part of a pre-game show leading into Game 2 of the Orlando-Boston series.
Regardless of how it turns out, the lottery does represent a significant point in the off-season evolution of a Toronto franchise that could lose its best player in free-agent-to-be Chris Bosh. Once the draft order is known, GM Bryan Colangelo and his braintrust can get down to the business of weeding out prospects from suspects among draft-eligible players.
Members of the coaching and scouting staff have been at group workouts for some players projected to go long after the 14 lottery teams have made their first selections. Individual workouts begin in earnest at the beginning of June and Toronto’s need is glaring.
To let imaginations run wild for a moment, Wall would instantly be on the fast track to becoming the Raptors franchise player, whether free-agent-to-be Chris Bosh stays or not. Although if Wall did end up in Toronto you can be sure Bosh would too.
That’s fantasy stuff to be sure. Chances are the Raptors will be picking 13th, with a chance to find some useful talent, but hardly a franchise player.
But that doesn’t mean the Raptors won’t be watching with interest. The whole NBA will, as the league heads into an unprecedented period in which a handful of people will hold the competitive balance of the entire enterprise hostage.
If the lottery unfolds as expected, the New Jersey Nets will pick No. 1, compensation for their 12-70 regular season embarrassment. They’ll take Wall. Then things get interesting in a way the landscape of the NHL was interesting when Alan Eagleson had his fingers in every pie, or the way major league baseball’s off-seasons are interesting when super agent Scott Boras is holding all the cards.
Of the seven prospective coaches to be interviewed by the 76ers since the firing of Eddie Jordan on April 15, three have "distanced themselves" from the rest of the pack, according to an NBA source.
Doug Collins, Avery Johnson or Sam Mitchell will take over a Sixers team that posted a disappointing 27-55 record last season. A second round of interviews could be conducted soon by president and general manager Ed Stefanski, assistant GM Tony DiLeo and team consultant Gene Shue, perhaps this week. Those three have been present for each interview.
Another source close to the process labeled Johnson as candidate "1A." Collins seems to have been tabbed the favorite, though the NBA source wouldn’t say that was the case. Collins’ agent, John Langel, had no comment when asked whether his client was the leader or close to being offered the job.
5. Toronto Raptors: Under the weighted lottery system, the Raptors would have just six chances in 1,000 of getting the top pick. But imagine how fortunate Toronto would be in beating the odds this time:
The Raptors’ biggest problem is persuading unrestricted free agent Chris Bosh to re-sign, after this team failed to reach the playoffs in an April collapse. A gift of fate – the No. 1 overall pick – would either be reason for Bosh to think twice about leaving or at least serve as a fine consolation prize.
The other area that needs to be addressed is point guard, where Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack split time. The trouble is, they are similar in style and talent, which meant that neither became the clear-cut starter and a debate raged over who the No. 1 guy should be. Having a regular floor leader would go a long way to clearly establishing a backcourt hierarchy and taking any debate out of the issue.
The play of five-time all-star Chris Bosh was exemplary and showed again why he is so valuable to the franchise. The 26-year-old posted his highest scoring average (24.0 points per game) and also averaged 10.8 rebounds, putting him in the top 10 in each category in the league.
The Raptors reached the All-Star break with a 29-23 record and were firmly ensconced in fifth place in the conference and even had designs on catching Boston in the Atlantic Division. It all went horribly awry right when Bosh turned an ankle and missed six games and Toronto lost 10 of 13 to begin a freefall to its ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
–The Raptors have always been one of the more cost-conscious teams in the NBA, vowing to never go past the luxury tax threshold. But because they see the best teams in the league continually going into tax territory, president and general manager Bryan Colangelo already has the approval of the team’s board of directors to spend into the tax on salaries next season. He won’t say what his budget is, but it’s a stark turnaround from what has been the team’s historical approach.
–The issue of players competing in international competition has always been a serious one for the Raptors. With so many international players on the roster, there are always a handful who go off and play for their countries in the summer. This year, Hedo Turkoglu will play for Turkey in the world championships in his native land, Chris Bosh might play for the United States at the worlds and Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli both could play for Italy.